American Chimera – 1.5

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“And what then?” the interrogator asked. “What did the vet say?”

Brett pointed ot the ground. “Chaw first. You get my chips and Pepsi out here, or I will shut my mouth tighter than a snappin’ turtle in a lightnin’ storm.”

The interrogator stood from her chair. “Your chips and Pepsi are on their way. Tell me what the vet said, Mr. Huffman.”

He turned up his nose at the interrogator and swiveled his head to watch the door. In the middle of the door was a slot that could be opened from the outside, a small table hanging from the door just underneath. An exit sign glowed a faint red in the dim room and reflected faintly off the metal walls. Lights hung from the ceiling, most of them off during the interrogation.

The interrogator cleared her throat and put a hand to Brett’s shoulder. “How did Mrs. Huffman decide to keep the spider so quickly? How did you decide what to do with it next?”

The slot on the door opened, and a hand placed an open glass bottle with a bag of chips next to it. Brett looked up to the interrogator, who let go of his shoulder and nodded to the gift with knowing eyes.

He stood from the chair, exaggerating the pain with which he stood, then hobbled over to the door. The interrogator noticed the thick skin on his fingers, the layers of sunburn that had built up the scabs and markings on the back of his neck. The man reached a shaking hand down to the chips and ripped open the top.

“Mr. Huffman, are you going to talk?”

He took a swig and coughed. “Oh hell no. Ain’t givin’ you nothin.”’ He took another sip and chewed some of the peanuts that came out with the drink. “I asked for Pepsi, and sure ’nuff you got me a Coke. Good faith my ass.” He sat down next to the door. “Take me back to my cell. ’Less I get what I ask for, you ain’t gettin’ nothin’ else outta me.”

The interrogator let her shoulders drop. “You’ve done well today, I suppose, and I’ll have plenty of time to talk with you later.” She tapped a few buttons on her tablet. “I’ll grant your request. You’ll have to learn to trust me better, Mr. Huffman.”

He laughed openly and tossed the empty bottle to the side. “Trust you? A colored Yank woman from the gov’ment who’s got me in jail for no reason at all?” He giggled and stood, offering his bonds as a means of control. “Sorry, ma’am, but there’s no way I’ll ever trust you.”

She put her hands behind her back as the door opened, a couple large guards taking hold of Mr. Huffman’s shoulders and dragged him out of the room.


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The Last Forest


I plodded into the forest with a tape measure. The age of a tree couldn’t be divined without coring, but I don’t have that equipment. Size will have to suffice.

Grandma once told me that the forests hold memories and grudges. She taught me how to ask forgiveness from the apple tree in the backyard, to seek the oldest tree for the absolution from a grove.

I decorated what limbs I could with prayer tags. “Please, don’t leave. Please grow again.”

It didn’t work, but maybe that wasn’t the oldest. A lot of trees had a five inch diameter.


This was written for the May 16th Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge. Inspired by Japanese kodama and buddhist prayer tags, I wrote a story about what I imagine to be a girl in rural China who lives near the last existing forest. Yaaay, global warming…